I called up Dan Feldman from Piston Powered (@PistonPowered) after the Austin Daye deal broke last night and we chatted about the player and some other topics, have a listen for an overview of what the newest Raptor is like. Topics include:
- Jump shooting effectiveness
- Defensive work
- Mental toughness, work ethic
- Surprise that Daye got a contract
- Good deal or mistake by the Raptors? Comparable players out there?
- Rating Detroit’s off-season, and competition with the Raptors for playoffs
- Charlie V and Stuckey for Rudy Gay rumours from a while back
- Bryan Colangelo’s promise to Charlie V
- How Pistons fans view Charlie V
So that was the podcast and below is what I think the Raptors are planning for with these moves:
Essentially, next year is a throwaway year where the goal is to make the playoffs in a risk-free manner, i.e., do it in a way where future financial resources are not committed, while pleasing fans in the interim. The Raptors are hoping, and I have this on good account, that Rudy Gay does not pick up his option next summer giving them close to $30M in cap space. This is the flexibility the Raptors are seeking so they can dive into the trade and free-agent pool of 2014 which includes Greg Monroe, Avery Bradley, Paul George, Zach Randolph, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James (only mentioning for completeness), and others.
As Raptors fans, we better hope that Rudy Gay has a year where he’s inclined to pass on the $19.3M deal that he’s owed in 2013-14 in favor of a long-term deal that pays him more on aggregate. I’m thinking if the Raptors had their way, every play next season would be for Rudy Gay. It’s all about cleaning up the mess that Bryan Colangelo has left behind by pressing the ‘reset’ button, only that the button takes a full year to press. This is hardly tanking, and I firmly believe that the Raptors are aiming to make the playoffs, if for no other reason than for the brief rejuvenation that would bring and the ever-so-slight validation it would provide for Masai Ujiri and Tim Leiweke.
D.J Augustin and Austin Daye are unlikely to ever take you to a championship level, but what they enable the Raptors to do is connect the dots to next summer. That’s when Ujiri for the first time will have the flexibility he desires along with the associated accountability. The standard in Toronto has been set so low that all Ujiri has to do is give a marginal NBA player a non-guaranteed year and he’s considered a genius. He’s racking up tons of goodwill early in his second stint with the Raptors while playing on the sub-text of fixing Colangelo’s errors, and that should last him all of next season. Next summer is when we go beyond table stakes, assuming Gay plays nice.